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Tree of Life Synagogue: Three Years Later

A Memorial Shabbat Service with Author Mark Oppenheimer

Friday October 22, 2021 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm

Hybrid – Temple

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On October 27, 2018, a heavily armed gunman broke through the peace of Shabbat and the doors of Tree of Life Synagogue, killing eleven Jews as they worshipped during morning services at their temple in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh.

As we approach the third anniversary of the deadliest antisemitic attack in American history, we ask you to join us at Temple* on Friday, October 22 at 6:00 pm for a Shabbat service commemorating this tragic day and honoring the memory of its victims.

We will be joined by Mark Oppenheimer, author of the newly released book Squirrel Hill: The Tree of Life Synagogue Shooting and the Soul of a Neighborhood. In writing this book, Oppenheimer spoke with residents and nonresidents, Jews and gentiles, survivors and witnesses, teenagers and seniors, activists, and historians. The stories he gathered provide a kaleidoscopic and nuanced account of collective grief, love, support, and revival. Oppenheimer will share one of these stories during the service and will participate in a Q&A afterward.

In his book, Oppenheimer helps shift the focus from the criminal and his crime to the historic, spirited community at the center of this heartbreak. He also details the difficult dialogue and messy confrontations that Squirrel Hill had to face in the process of healing — a necessary part of true growth and understanding for any community — reverently capturing the vibrancy and caring that still characterize Squirrel Hill.

Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, is one of the oldest Jewish neighborhoods in the country, known for its tight-knit community and the profusion of multigenerational families. Many neighborhoods would be understandably subsumed by despair and recrimination after such an event, but not Squirrel Hill. The remarkable resilience of this community provides inspiration during a time when it feels like the world is filled with so much discrimination and hate.

Click here to purchase the book through WHC’s Mitzvah Mall

About the Author:

Mark Oppenheimer directs the Yale Journalism Initiative and has been a lecturer in Yale’s English department, political science department, and divinity school. He also received his B.A. in history and his Ph.D. in religious studies from Yale. Oppenheimer was the religion columnist for The New York Times from 2010 to 2016 and has written for The New York Times Magazine, GQ, The Washington Post, Slate, Mother Jones, The Nation, and The Believer, among others and has been a commentator on NPR.

Oppenheimer, a truly engaging speaker, has joined us at Washington Hebrew in the past — for a live taping of his popular podcast, Tablet magazine’s “Unorthodox” in 2019, and this past March to discuss The Newish Jewish Encyclopedia, one of five books he has authored.

*If you plan to join us in person, please click here to learn about our health and safety protocols and plan to arrive a few minutes early.

Out of concern for the community, if you are feeling unwell, we ask you to please join us via our livestream. You can follow along from home using the online version of Mishkan T’filah, our Shabbat prayer book.



Friday, October 22


6:00 pm - 7:30 pm


Hybrid – Temple


Shabbat, Worship Service